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Three geniuses, no waiting

Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov and Dvorák evoking Shakespeare, Paganini and the New World: quite a night



For an evening's triple bill of classical-music titans, it would be hard to top Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov and Dvorák, but that's the play list for the Chelyabinsk State Symphony Orchestra on September 28 at Bangkok's 14th International Festival of Dance and Music.

Under the baton of the celebrated Anton Grishanin, the orchestra will finesse Tchaikovsky's "Romeo and Juliet Overture", often hailed as a classic of the Russian symphonic canon. He will perform Rachmaninov's groundbreaking romantic showpiece "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini". And finally there will be Dvorák's last major work, the Symphony No 9 "From the New World", reflecting the composer's impressions of America and homesickness for Europe.

Artistic director and chief conductor Grishanin, born in 1976, is already towering figure in the world of operas, ballet and classical music. An Honoured Artist of the Russian Federation, he's performed throughout his homeland and from Spain to Japan.

In demand as a guest conductor in Russia and Europe, he works regularly with the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow and other famed companies, including Deutsche Oper Berlin.

After first tuning up in 1956, the orchestra has developed into a world-class act devoted to the standards of European classical music and the symphonic-scale works of contemporary composers.

Fine-tuning its sound over six decades, the orchestra has attracted an incredible ensemble of musicians and also been a sounding board for National Artists of Russia, such as Fuat Masurov, Yury Kochnev and Eugeny Brazhnik, and Honored Artists of Russia, like Alexander Anisimov, Olivye Kuande and Ion Yanku.

During their fabled career they have recorded several CDs featuring renditions of Tchaikovsky, Kalman and the modern composer Valeria Besedina.

Though the Chelyabinsk State Symphony Orchestra has performed abroad in places like Taiwan and London to great acclaim and fanfare, this is their first performance in Thailand and sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

First on the bill for Bangkok is Tchaikovsky's fantasy overture for a production of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet". Another outstanding Russian musician, A Balakirev, suggested this stirring, romantic piece to the maestro after witnessing his passion for Shakespeare.

Creating it was no easy feat - Tchaikov-sky rewrote it at least three times before deeming his effort worthy. He proudly included it in programme for many concerts abroad. Today the "Romeo and Juliet Overture" is esteemed one of the great treasures of Russian classical music.

Rachmaninov, renowned as both a pianist and a purveyor of romanticism, composed "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini" in 1934 at his summer home in Switzerland, He was by then a resident of the United States.

A showcase for his innovation as an artist and philosopher, it was written for solo piano and symphony orchestra and closely resembles a piano concerto.

The sheet music remains wildly popular and the clever music has served several Hollywood soundtracks. It is not to be over-intellectualised. "In my own compositions," Rachmaninoff said, "I never make conscious efforts to be original or romantic, nationalistic or someone else. When I write, all I try to do is to make the music express my feelings in a simple way. Love, grief and sorrow are all compiled in my compositions."

The pianist for the concert is the highly regarded Anastasia Goldberg. Educated in Russia and the Netherlands, she has received many international awards and rave reviews as a concert pianist and for her CD recordings.

Bringing down the curtain is Dvorák's Symphony No 9 "From the New World". It was the Czech composer's final work and is often hailed as his magnum opus. Written during his "American period" when he toiled as the director of a conservatory in New York, beginning in 1891, it echoes his feelings about the country and its people.

Big bold themes like this resound through all four parts of the symphony. At times the sounds of his homeland break through in the polka tunes, yet the American presence predominates, as in the popular African-American spiritual "From the Sky Flies the Carriage".

Upper classics

_ See the Chelyabinsk State Symphony Orchestra on September 28 at 7.30pm at the Thailand Cultural Centre.

_ Seats are available from www.ThaiTicketMajor.com.

_ Find out more at (02) 262 3191 or visit www.BangkokFestivals.com.

_ Bangkok's 14th International Festival of Dance and Music is sponsored by Bangkok Bank, B Grimm, the Dusit Thani Bangkok, Nation Multimedia Group, Nivea, SCG, Singha, Thai Airways International, the Tourism Authority of Thailand and Toyota Motor Thailand.


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